Thought for the Month (January 2015)

Behold says God "I will make all things new" (Revelation 21 v 5). "The plans God makes are wise and they always succeed!" (Isaiah 28 v 29).

Dear Friends

May I take this opportunity to wish you all a very happy and peaceful New Year as we step into 2015.

A new year is always a bit of a mixed bag in what it will bring our way. We will probably make plans, some of which will come to fruition, others sadly not. The years seem to pass more quickly as we become older or is that just me? I can hardly believe it is now five years since I stepped down from the Pastorate at Hawkenbury URC.

However I have not been idle. Decorating and gardening keep me busy during the week. Most Sundays I take one or two Services. We have about twenty Churches in the South Kent Methodist Circuit so there is plenty to do. I also help out every week at our Church in Cheriton. It has an "open all hours policy" for an initial period of a year fulfilling a message from God to one of its congregation. I am still involved as a URC Trustee on Kent Workplace Mission now one of the biggest and most active industrial missions in the country.

My wife, Diana (pictured with me, second from the left, with our son Matthew on her left, and grand-daughter Eloise, daughter Clare and other son Nicholas all to her right and my left) is actively involved as a Steward at our local Methodist Chapel in Dymchurch. There are always plenty of jobs to be done even in a small Church and sometimes not enough people to do them all. They have a very successful Knitters group that produce beautiful blankets and jumpers for Operation Sunshine. Sometimes these items are the only new things the recipients may receive in their lives.

Preaching in different denominations brings with it the challenge of different hymn books! (I also preach in Baptist Churches sometimes). However one hymn that I use regularly is a fairly modern one written by a former RC nun Estelle White - "Moses I know you're the man the Lord says. You're going to work out my plan the Lord says". This hymn is not just about Moses but about you and me. Often before we sing this in a Service I get the congregation to call out their Christian names in order to emphasise the fact that they are the man or woman in God's plan.

Sometimes when we look at the world and the events of our lives we might wonder where it is all going. Does God have a plan for each of us? Well, yes He does! Psalm 33 v 11 reminds us " the plans of the Lord stand firm for ever, the purposes of His heart through all generations".

In John 15 verses 14-15 Jesus calls us his friends if we keep his commandments and follow His teaching. He shares with us everything the Father told Him. We are engaged not just as servants but as co-workers in building the Kingdom of God and spreading the good news of the Gospel. We are empowered by the promise and gift of the Holy Spirit.

So, as we go forward into a new year with whatever it will bring, may the words of Rejoice and Sing number 549 ring in our ears:- "And it's from the old I travel to the new Keep me travelling along with you". This reminds us that Jesus is always our Comforter and Friend as we journey on.

God bless you all

Richard Blackwell (former Pastor Hawkenbury URC)

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